US ambassador failed to follow diplomatic protocols when making allegations: Presidency

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Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety did not follow diplomatic channels when he made allegations against South Africa.

Brigety said that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia to use in the war against Ukraine. The Presidency has disputed the allegations. It says it has no knowledge of any weapons being loaded onto a Russian ship and that if this happened it would have been illegal.

Ntshavheni accuses Brigety of using what she termed “megaphone” diplomacy.

“They are allowed to raise their concerns but there are channels because we have a relationship with the US. And if there are security concerns they can interact with respective security liaisons whether it’s defence or intelligence.”

Ntshavheni adds, “What is worrying is that if you recall, the embassy once issued a terror alert not only at the richest square mile in the African continent but at a period when there was a gay pride march scheduled and did that without even contacting us and ascertaining whether their information they’ve gathered, because they don’t gather at the extent at which we gather in the country.”

US ambassador to SA apologises over Russia allegations: Dirco:

On Thursday Brigety told local media that US intelligence was confident that arms and ammunition had been loaded onto a Russian ship near Cape Town in December last year. The comments have stimulated robust public debate.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered an inquiry which a retired judge will chair. The International Relations Department has confirmed that Ambassador Brigety has apologised for making a public statement on the matter.

The department’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela says, “Ambassador Reuben Brigety admitted that he crossed the line and apologised unreservedly to the government and people of South Africa. South Africa is known globally for having one of the most stringent processes when selling arms to other countries. The process is managed by the National Convention Arms Control Committee which was created through an Act of Parliament.”

Discussion | Allegations that SA provided arms to Russia:

Blinken’s call to Pandor 

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has confirmed that he has spoken to his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor telephonically.

A short State Department statement has underscored the importance of the US-South African strategic partnership. It has reiterated cooperation on shared priorities including health, trade and energy. But the gist of the statement belies the very real tensions between Pretoria and Washington.